Is It Possible to Affair-Proof a Marriage?

On Oprah’s “Why Men Cheat Part 2” show, M. Gary Neuman offered three ways to affair-proof a marriage:

1. Appreciate your spouse more. In fact, make sure to appreciate your spouse as much as you possibly can.

2. Have sex. Make time for sex. Enjoy sex. (He suggested women are bad about receiving pleasure. Men are better at that. By nature they’re takers and we’re givers. We’re not comfortable receiving. Be it sexual pleasure or tokens of affection. Mr. Neuman said instead of saying “You shouldn’t have” when your husband gives you something, you should say, “Yes you should have and thank you very much!”)

3. Beware of the bad influence of friends. (Of the men who cheated that he interviewed, 70 percent had best friends that had also cheated on their spouses. The faithful group had less than half with best friends who’d cheated.)

I believe he had other suggestions, too, but these were the three top ways to prevent an affair from happening.

But is that really possible? If someone’s inclined to cheat, will what their partner does make much of a difference?

I’m asking this while thinking about friends I’ve known who have either cheated or been cheated on.

I’m not sure anything could have stopped the couple people I’ve known who’ve cheated from cheating. They were not happy with their partner and strayed. It wouldn’t have mattered how much appreciation or sex the partner gave. I’m convinced they still would have done it. In one case it was for the thrill of it. (And I’m thinking if he’d gotten more attention he would have perceived that as her being clingy, would have been turned off more, and still would have cheated.) In the other, I think she just wanted out of her marriage. An affair guaranteed her husband wouldn’t take her back.

And of those I know who’ve been cheated on…I’m not sure if, had they changed their actions prior to the affair, it would have mattered either. But it might have. In one case it really might have. The woman was too busy always doing her own thing. And when she was around her husband she’d put him down. She thought she was being funny, but it seems he didn’t take it that way. Then there was my other friend who was as jealous as they came and was always accusing her husband of being unfaithful. It reminds me of something my parents used to say to me: “You want something to cry about? I’ll give you something to cry about.” I think that friend’s husband I was talking about gave her something to be genuinely jealous about.

I’d like to think affairs can be avoided. Sure, being attentive, showing appreciation, having sex, and in general respecting your spouse will help.

But instead of being motivated to do those things for fear if you don’t an affair will happen, wouldn’t it be better to be present in your marriage because you genuinely adore your spouse, love having sex with them, cherish spending time with them, and can’t help but let them know how they mean the world to you?

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